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More than 50 years later, MLK’s speech remains relevant

I took the time recently to really read Martin Luther King Jr’s speech, “I have a dream.”

I admit it, I never really read it before. I’ve heard it. I’ve read parts of it in school. I’ve seen the posters and the memes with snippets from the speech.

Being a grandmother of three mixed girls, I wanted them to appreciate the entirety of who they are and where they come from. I wanted them to be proud, not of their skin color or what they look like, but what being born from both races really means and celebrate their heritages. To do that, I also needed to learn. Reading MLK’s speech was just a small step in that direction.

As I read it, however, I couldn’t help but notice how much of his speech is still relevant today. We have come very far in race relationships since the 1960s. My granddaughters back then would have been shunned, as would have been their parents. However, their future is bright and filled with every possibility in the world open to them.

Still our country struggles.  We’ve  had our first black president. That alone speaks volumes. But it also incited the festering wound that still exists in our country, among all races. There’s still too much resentment, anger and mistrust on both sides to claim we are truly a united country. When someone has an operation, the skin is sewn back together, once again united. But if the cut doesn’t heal on the inside, the wound is reopened. Lately, those wounds seem to be reopened over and over again.

“Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”

Much of his dream has come true. The government makes segregation illegal. However, the people in this country still often segregate themselves. In Oxford, there are white and black funeral homes; white and black barbers; white and black churches; white and black neighborhoods. And yet, visit Bramlett or Lafayette Elementary and you will see black and white children together, playing, learning, dreaming of what they might accomplish one day when they grow up.

A few years ago at a MLK Day event, a local pastor told those gathering at the Burns-Belfry Museum that the world cannot wait for another Martin Luther King or another hero to change the world. He reminded us we are all heroes and that each of has the power to further the work of MLK, every day, by simply respecting those who are different than us and treating each other based on a person’s merits, rather than the color of their skin.

Be a hero today. Be the best person you can be. Let’s give MLK something to be proud of today – on the day this country selected to honor the man who once had a wonderful dream.

“I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this Nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We  hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” – MLK.

Alyssa Schnugg is Senior Writer at the Oxford Eagle. Email her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com